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Should I Buy my Child a Horse?

5 June 2023

Your horse-mad child has finally asked THAT question!

“Can I have my own horse, please?”

The My Little Ponies, the Barbie and Horse set, the endless viewings of National Velvet, and numerous readings of Black Beauty, not to mention the cuddly unicorn toys, are no longer enough to satisfy them.

BUT before you go out and spend thousands on that cute little pony and all the equipment that goes with it, consider a few things first.

This decision may not seem such a big one for parents and carers who already own and care for horses. Their children will likely follow in their footsteps from an early age if they are interested enough.

However, this is HUGE for the family whose entire equestrian experience has been accompanying their child to their weekly one-hour time slot at the chosen riding venue!

So, where do we start?

Seek Advice

Research, research, research!

Knowledge is power, after all, and your child’s riding instructor is probably the best place to start.

They will have the expertise and inside knowledge of your child’s skill and handling of a horse to help you determine their readiness to own one.

Is your child a timid or confident rider?

Do they prefer to ride just one horse, or are they just as capable on any other?

Do they want to be involved in the grooming and (un)tacking before and after a lesson? Or do they prefer to turn up, ride and head home after?

How responsible and responsive is your child to their personal safety and that of their mount?

Grit yourself! You may be about to hear something you don’t want to, regardless of a yes or a no!

Is Time an Issue?

Owning and caring for any animal is a long-term commitment that will eat into your child’s time.

School, homework, friends, clubs, parties, holidays - your child should consider all these. Their horse will need feeding, grooming, exercise, companionship, cleaning, veterinary care, and so much more.

Will a missed playdate or gym class be too big a sacrifice?

Why a Horse?

Discuss with your child why they want their own horse and any riding goals or targets they have in mind.

Your child may still be a beginner, so you would be looking for a steady steed.

Maybe your child has discovered a talent for cross country or jumping and wants a forward horse that will challenge and progress their riding skills to the next level.

Understanding your child’s reasons for wanting a horse will help you decide on the most suitable horse.

Can We Afford It?

The question of cost is THE BIG ONE!

There is no doubt about it; owning a horse costs money and a lot of it!

Not only is there the initial outlay involved in searching, buying, and relocating your child’s new pony, but there are the ongoing costs involved in keeping and caring for it.

Your horse needs a home, whether that’s going to be a full livery, your own stable or field hire, or a combination of the two.

Do you have your own tack and riding equipment?

If you’re going to compete, can you afford the purchase or hire of a trailer or horsebox?

Additionally, there are unexpected costs that arrive suddenly. You may have budgeted for the farrier, regular worming from the vet, or an annual visit from the horse dentist, but what if your horse loses a shoe, falls unexpectedly ill, goes lame, or has a toothache and can’t eat? 

Wow! Did you even realise so much was involved!?

What Other Options Are There?

Once you have explored all options, you may decide that buying your child a horse is the right path for you, in which case, go for it! Enjoy!

If the answer is no, then don’t despair. There are many more options to explore until the right time to buy.

Lease or loan

●  Many stables offer leases on horses at their stables, a natural progression from the standard one-hour-lesson-a-week.

●  Some owners find that they suddenly have less time for their horse, but don’t want to part with it, so they put it out for loan. Look out for the advertisements in your local papers or online.

●  Alternatively, you could consider a horse-share option with a fellow horse enthusiast.

Volunteering at a local stable

Consider volunteering at your local stables. Some establishments offer riding lessons in exchange for grooming, feeding, mucking out, (un)tacking up duties, etc. This can contribute significantly towards the practical element of horse care and stable management qualifications for your child.

Increased lessons and activity days

Stables offer lots of riding activities besides the standard hour-long lesson. Your child can attend organised ‘Own a Horse’ Days or in-house competitions, for example.


Read, learn and educate. Horse ownership has many levels, so continued learning through reading and/or courses is the ideal way to prepare for horse ownership and for your child to prove their commitment for the future.

Whatever your final decision, don’t rush into it. The average lifespan of a horse is between 25-30 years, so you’re in it for the long haul. Make sure your decision is the right one. It’ll save on a lot of heartaches later on.

Photo by Filip Kuran

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